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Are courts reopening anytime soon?

08, 07-2020

Courts have now indicated that they will be resuming some of their usual activities in the coming weeks. Courts are following strict health and safety protocols to ensure that the courts remain safe for everyone.

Supreme Court

For the Supreme Court, see COVID-19 NOTICE NO. 25 and COVID-19 NOTICE 26  and COVID-19 NOTICE 32 (Civil, Family, Insolvency and Bankruptcy proceedings), COVID-19 Notice No. 33 (Criminal), and COVID-19 Notice 34 (Civil and Family)for more information. See HERE for a full index of Supreme Court notices.

Effective July 13, 2020, in-person registry services will resume at all Supreme Court registries in British Columbia, and the interim process that the Court established for requesting a hearing of an urgent or essential matter will no longer be available. While in-person filing is available, parties are strongly encouraged to use e-filing, or one of the other methods. See Notice No. 33 (Criminal) and Notice No. 34 (Civil and Family) for more details.

Civil and family jury trials are cancelled up until September 7, 2020. Starting June 1, 2020, some chambers matters will resume by telephone conference, including Judicial Case Conferences, already scheduled chambers matters, and trial management conferences. All civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or before June 5, 2020 are adjourned and all civil and family trials scheduled to begin on or after June 8, 2020 will resume, unless the Court otherwise directs. Please note that as of May 26, 2020 and until further notice, parties not appearing in person before the Court as a result of measures put in place during the public health emergency are required to e-file their affidavits of service or delivery. See this notice for how to e-file through Court Services Online.

Parties can make Chambers applications to the Supreme Court that are estimated to take two hours or less. For more information on such applications, see COVID-19 Notice No. 28.

BC Provincial Court 

For information on the BC Provincial Court, or to determine when your trial, hearing or matter will be heard, see the Notice to the Profession and Public Covid-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations NP19.The provincial court is mainly dealing with previously scheduled matters and new urgent matters at this time, but check the aforementioned Notice for further details. 

NOTE: Only trials will be held in-person. All other matters will be heard by phone or video conference, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. 

Beginning June 8, 2020, the Provincial Court will begin hearing some in-person hearings in a few courthouses around the province. See their May 26, 2020 announcement for more detail. In person hearings will be reserved for priority matters that cannot be dealt with remotely. However, the public is still strongly discouraged from attending court in person. Hearings and other proceedings will take place by video or audio conference unless otherwise directed. 

All trials scheduled in Provincial Court after July 3, 2020 will remain on the trial list and parties should attend court at 9am on the day their trial is scheduled. The Court will then decide which trials will proceed. Other non-trial appearances scheduled for after July 3, 2020, will proceed on the date scheduled, either in court or by phone. See the Court’s latest Notice to the Public for more details. Initial Criminal Appearances in the Fraser, Interior, Northern, and Vancouver Regions, will recommence at all reopened court locations effective June 15, 2020. For the Vancouver Island Region, they will recommence at all reopened court locations effective July 6, 2020. If an individual has a matter scheduled from June 15 to July 3, 2020, they do not need to attend court and their matter will be adjourned as set out in Appendix “A” of the Notice to the Public. For more about Initial Criminal Appearances, click HERE.

Court of Appeal

The BC Court of Appeal has continued its suspension of required time periods to commence civil or family proceedings. This means that until further notice you may start an appeal if you wish to do so, but, if you are unable to start an appeal, you can wait without concern until the end of the state of emergency. Parties should continue to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters within required time periods. The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice. As of July 7, deadlines have been suspended until July 27, 2020. Also, parties may now request that their appeal hearing proceed in a courtroom or by Zoom videoconference. For more information, see the Notice to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.


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